Happy Easter. Slow down and smile, you’re on ‘Candid Camera?’
“Smile! You’re on ‘Candid Camera!’” Those were words I loved to hear “Candid Camera” host Allen Funt say to a poor, unsuspecting soul just before explaining that the mailbox really can’t talk but that she should look to her right and smile.
Sometimes the subject chuckled incredulously at his two minutes of fame, not realizing he might not get his other 13. Others kept the language censor busy by letting out a string of expletives.
What happened the week before Easter on a busy street in front of a private school in Portland, Ore., probably left many wishing they were on “Candid Camera” instead.
Grace Lutheran is on a busy thoroughfare in northeastern Portland that’s known as an easy spot for drivers to exceed the usual 35 mph speed limit, which drops to 20 mph because it’s in a school zone.
Mary Gray, pre-school teacher at Grace Lutheran School, recounted how the Portland police called the principal to inform him a marked police van would be across the street for the day to monitor traffic and issue citations to speeders. After all, it’s one thing to speed, but quite another to speed in a school zone.
What did the Portland police do to issue citations? They certainly didn’t employ Allen Funt or his son, Peter, for a revival episode of “Candid Camera.” But cameras were used — they were high-speed cameras.
Some of you might be aware of technology that can capture a vehicle’s front and rear license plates, profile of the vehicle, and a close-up of the driver’s face. That’s what the Portland Police Department used to document lead-footed law-breakers to mail citations to them. Remember — the police were using a marked vehicle.
A few days later, roughly 180 drivers found notices in their mailboxes courtesy of the Portland Police Department. Not exactly the type of communication a person would want to receive right before Easter.
Just a hunch, but I don’t think the mailing said: Dear valued citizen, Enclosed you will find a recent picture of you with your car exceeding the speed limit in a school zone. Please remit $140 to the clerk of courts within 10 days. The Portland Police Department wishes you a Happy Easter and a Pleasant Passover.
Yeah, happy Easter, pleasant Passover … whatever. City revenue must not have been at a level where Portland city leadership felt comfortable for the month of March. So in order to alleviate the revenue shortfall, the Portland police nabbed 180 people at $140 a pop that day to bring in more than $25,000. That could pay for a lot of doughnuts.
Just remember to smile when you drive by the squad car with your cruise control set. Hope-fully, you won’t be on the police version of “Candid Camera.”
Columnist Tim Gray, a West Salem resident, can be reached at email@example.com . Read his blog at http://timgraymatter.blogspot.com.
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